Webber

Ahead of his keynote address, we met with the Itron Utility Week keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Evan Webber, to dive a little deeper into how the energy-water nexus impacts the utility industry. His answers surprised, challenged and encouraged us.

In his keynote address, Dr. Webber wowed the audience with a quick-firing presentation that ran the gamut: from climate change and space exploration to water quality and anecdotal stories about his suburban Austin neighborhood’s fight for a reliable water supply.

“Conservation doesn’t solve all our problems, but it sure buys us a lot of time,” Webber said.

He even highlighted the energy-water imbalances seen in the beer brewing industry. Yes, even beer depends on energy and water.

Some of the facts and statistics were staggering. Even everyday activities have a direct effect on the energy-water nexus. The resources are not, it turns out, isolated. They are interrelated in ways that surely surprised the IUW audience.

“We use more water through our electricity consumption that through our taps,” Webber continued.

Key takeaway: while we are already implementing some of the strategies and policy initiatives necessary to bring energy and water in balance, we still have work to do.

Here are a few insightful excerpts and quotes:

  • Energy and water are the looming crises of the twenty-first century
  • Regulating carbon limits in energy production? What about water limits?
  • Around 50 percent of water withdrawals are used to cool generation facilities
  • Greater than 12 percent of energy goes to extracting, purifying, moving and treating water; that’s more than we use for lighting
  • 58 percent of generation capacity sits idle
  • 5-15 percent energy reduction with more accurate, up-to-date, accessible information
  • The future: utilities may make money on selling services, not just energy and water
  • 10 – 40  percent non-revenue water, mostly water lost from leaks

Webber’s closing remark: “Be resourceful with more data.”

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